The End of Full Service Parenting

From the moment out children arrive in the world, we, the parents, are on the clock. There is no need that is unmet, no want that is unfilled and we spend our time triaging each crisis — large and small. The kids’ need to eat. They need to be changed. They need to be soothed. We are there. 

We get used to taking care of our children 24/7 and we predict each and every desire, whim and need our kids will have. It’s the cycle of parenting. 

Our kids get used to this, too. They rely on our ability to be there for them for every scraped knee, every bath time, every meal time. We cut their food, we feed it to them and we clean up once they finish eating. We are doers and they are the receivers of our doing. It’s how raising children works. 

But my wife is ready for an end to what she calls “full service parenting.”

Our youngest just turned 6 and he has always relied on us to take care of his needs, as he should. We wipe his butt. We brush his teeth. We buckle him in the car before every car ride and now, it feels like it’s time for those things to stop. He is old enough to do those tasks by himself, with our guidance. The quality of his work, I wonder about, but the fact remains that it’s time for him to begin to exert some independence. That’s the only way that he’ll grow and mature and begin to take responsibility for his own actions. 

I will admit that it’s hard. There is a comfort that comes with being asked to do things for my kids. It shows that no matter how old they get — and I cannot believe they are 8 and 6 — they need me. Giving that up after YEARS of being one of the two caregivers for my children makes me sad. But my need to feel needed and my goal of teaching them independence are incongruous. The most important thing I can do for them is to give them the tools they need to handle life on their own. 

That’s why whenever 6 yells from my bathroom for me to come wipe his butt, I will have a short response. “No, buddy,” I’ll say. “It’s time for you to do it yourself.”

(Photo by yourbestdigs on / CC BY)


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About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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